The Politics-Administration Dichotomy in Time of Global Crisis: Neutral Competence or Cadre Organizations

Michael Guo-Brennan


The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) placed enormous pressures on local, regional, and national governments to remain responsive, transparent, and equitable when developing solutions to protect the public. The focus of this article is an examination of these challenges, the lack of preparedness, and the resulting response to Covid-19 through the lens of the politics-administration dichotomy. Despite the fact that China does not practice a Weberian democratic form of government that divided the politics of governing from the administration of government thought essential for national development, the nation has managed to become a global economic powerhouse. Through a high degree of centralization and control, China has implemented market-based economic reforms synchronous with sustained socialist practices. However, this system presents unique challenges for effective governance, and when Covid-19 first appeared in China the government was not prepared for the scale of the emergency that would ensue. Some of these challenges are the result of the governmental system in China, the role of the Chinese Communist Party and local cadre organizations. For China to continue to grow as a global leader, leadership will need to promote liberalization of governance structures and greater separation between the politics of governing and the administration of governing. Despite considerable pressure by the United States on corporations and other governments to disentangle themselves from China, Western investment by multinational corporations that disregard human rights abuses, along with a Chinese government that continues to limit access to information, makes this scenario unlikely.


Public Administration, Globalization, Covid-19, Politics-Administration Dichotomy

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